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Leadership, OFSTED

#OfstedSEFPlanner – Quality of Teaching

This blog post was first written in November 2013.  I have updated it using the latest School Inspection Handbook and Subsidiary Guidance published in December 2013 which came into effect in January 2014.  Amendments are in red and whilst there is a great deal of commonality between previous and new documents there are some key differences.

The first has been plastered all over twitter and commented on by many:

“Inspectors must not give the impression that Ofsted favours a particular teaching style. Moreover, they must not inspect or report in a way that is not stipulated in the framework, handbook or guidance. For example, they should not criticise teacher talk for being overlong or bemoan a lack of opportunity for different activities in lessons unless there is unequivocal evidence that this is slowing learning over time. It is unrealistic, too, for inspectors to necessarily expect that all work in all lessons is always matched to the specific needs of each individual. Do not expect to see ‘independent learning’ in all lessons and do not make the assumption that this is always necessary or desirable. On occasions, too, pupils are rightly passive rather than active recipients of learning. Do not criticise ‘passivity’ as a matter of course and certainly not unless it is evidently stopping pupils from learning new knowledge or gaining skills and understanding.”

The section on Quality of Teaching goes on to say:


Subsidiary Guidance on Quality of Teaching, January 2014

Subsidiary Guidance on Quality of Teaching, January 2014

This has been seen as a break through by many teachers in instructing inspectors not to favour a particular style of teaching.  

In evaluating the quality of teaching it is important to look at the impact of the teaching on the progress of students, including consistently high expectations of all students and differentiation within the class to meet individual needs, which can be seen in lessons and evidenced in students’ books.  Beyond the classroom, intervention strategies by teachers, setting of homework and marking and feedback, which is used by the learner to help improve her/his performance, all need to be considered.

I would recommend you reading Mary Myatt’s blog on “Why Lesson Observations Only Count for So Much” and she has a number of links to some excellent blog posts on the subject.

It does rather beg the question why so much time is spent on observing lessons during an inspection or why an outstanding grade in Quality of Teaching is required to get an Outstanding overall – why not just defer both and look at the Achievement of Students?

If you look at the data below from Ofsted for inspection in secondary schools between April to June 2013 (448 schools in total) you do wonder about why there are two different grades for achievement & teaching quality:

Ofsted Inspection Data

There is very little information in the Subsidiary Guidance on the Quality of Teaching. Maybe the observation of teaching and internal assessment data provided by the school gives the most current information about student achievement?

Just to note at the moment, inspectors will also make a judgement within lessons that affects the grade for “Behaviour & Safety” linked to whether students show a thirst and passion for learning or are too passive – the latter for many of us can look like well-behaved students getting on with their work!

Gathering the Evidence

In a similar way to the #OfstedSEFPlanner – Achievement there is a need to collect data over time and the focus on the core subjects is unrelenting.

#OfstedSEFPlanner - Quality of Teaching - Graphs & Grades

In terms of lesson observations during the Ofsted Inspection senior leaders should expect to do a number of paired observations with inspectors and have their judgements tested.  In past years I have had my lesson observation judgements moderated by a trained Ofsted Inspector.  However, this year I involved senior leaders alongside myself and the trained Ofsted Inspector in moderating lesson judgements and invited in a number of governors to quality assure the whole process.  I think it was really worthwhile.

When observing lessons remember, “What works, is good” and this is now enshrined in the School Inspection Handbook:

Taken from the School Inspection Handbook

Taken from the School Inspection Handbook

Once the lesson observation data is collected it is important to join the dots.

Connecting the Dots – Achievement & Quality of Teaching

One of the most substantial changes to the current Ofsted Framework is the introduction of the impact of teaching over time.  This links the judgement on teaching and learning with that on achievement.  If “the most important purpose of teaching is to raise pupils’ achievement” then it is difficult to see how it could be any other way.  It is critical when writing the SEF to look at where there is a discrepancy between achievement data and quality of teaching information.  There may be a valid reason that can be offered or crucially a mis-match between the data that will raise the question about whether the lesson being viewed is representative of what is being delivered over time.  This cuts both ways – a bad lesson or day when an inspector visits can be seen in the light of excellent results over time but also vice versa.

#OfstedSEFPlanner - Quality of Teaching - Match with Achievement, Marking & SMSC

Either way it is important to compare and categorise the achievement of students and the quality of teaching judgements.  In the red and amber zones, particularly the amber one where achievement requires improvement or is inadequate, there will be an expectation that leaders have taken action.  Put simply, if outcomes are not good or better how has this been reflected in performance management, salary determinations and in terms of specific and targeted professional development programmes?  This isn’t particularly pleasant work but inspectors are asking, “If things aren’t right for students what have you done about it?”  It is far better and expected of leaders to help staff.  Don’t leave them struggling, that isn’t fair on anyone.  Just an additional note her, governors need to know this information as it is a question that may well be asked of them.  I wonder whether a briefing sheet for governors with key information as well as regular sight of the SEF would be very useful.

Make sure that “work scrutiny” is regularly conducted and in particular look for evidence of where students have responded to feedback to improve the quality of their work.  This has a significant impact on levels of achievement and so is something all schools, teachers and students should be aiming for.

Spiritual, Moral, Social & Cultural

Gathering evidence on this can be extremely helpful in presenting your SEF to inspectors.  It cuts across a number of the judgements and lesson observations can be a rich source of evidence of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of students.

Bringing It All Together

The tables below are taken from the School Inspection Handbook and will hopefully help you make your overall judgement for “Quality of Teaching”.

Taken from the School Inspection Handbook

Taken from the School Inspection Handbook

Taken from the School Inspection Handbook

Taken from the School Inspection Handbook

In coming to a decision it is helpful to justify to yourself, senior leaders, governors and staff, as objectively as possible:

Why you have graded the school at a certain level?

What would you need to do to secure this grading?

Why is it not the grade above or below?

You Can Download Versions of the #OfstedSEFPlanner – Quality of Teaching here:

#OfstedSEFPlanner – Quality of Teaching (Word Version)

#OfstedSEFPlanner – Quality of Teaching (PDF Version)

Other posts in the #OfstedSEFPlanner series include:

#OfstedSEFPlanner – Achievement of Students

#OfstedSEFPlanner – Behaviour & Safety

#OfstedSEFPlanner – Leadership & Management

If you are looking for more assistance on preparing for Ofsted the following might be useful:

This is one of a series of posts on producing an Ofsted Self Evaluation Form.  It is part of my current workload and as I stated in the last post:

“I have no special insight beyond that gleaned from reading the School Inspection Handbook and Subsidiary Guidance.  This is not by way of a disclaimer, although maybe it should be, but it is also to invite others to add comments and suggestions to this work and help improve it for others.”



9 thoughts on “#OfstedSEFPlanner – Quality of Teaching

  1. Comprehensive road map here, particularly plotting where there might be a mismatch between quality of teaching seen in lesson observations and progress. Critically, the conversations about why this is the case, and the level of support needed. Also good to highlight the additional expectations for B&S re ‘thirst for knowledge’ and ‘love of learning’.

    Posted by marymyatt | November 9, 2013, 6:46 pm
  2. I’d like to know more about what you mean when you say governors quality assure your observations?

    Posted by Clare Collins | November 10, 2013, 1:07 pm
    • Dear Clare,

      I’m going to pick this up in more detail when I write the #OfstedSEFPlanner – Leadership & Management which should be ready for next weekend, unless the week is more mad than usual. This section covers the governance element but one example is we had two governors observing the process of senior leaders moderating judgements of lessons and we intend to have governors present when we undertake the self review & evaluation process with departments later this year.

      Hope this helps.



      Posted by ExecutiveHT | November 10, 2013, 1:11 pm
  3. Thank you for this work Stephen, I found it very useful.

    Posted by Gavin | November 13, 2013, 8:43 pm


  1. Pingback: #OfstedSEFPlanner – Behaviour and Safety | Leading Learner - November 10, 2013

  2. Pingback: Ofsted criteria and lesson observations | marymyattsblog - November 10, 2013

  3. Pingback: #OfstedSEFPlanner – Achievement of Students | Leading Learner - November 10, 2013

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  5. Pingback: #OfstedSEFPlanner – Leadership and Management | Leading Learner - November 17, 2013

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